Gilmore Completes Farmers Market Addition

Times Staff Writer

Through the decades, it has been home to such diverse enterprises as dairy farming, drive-in movies and professional baseball.

But after a four-year construction binge that transformed the property into one of the city’s top retail draws, the Farmers Market is inviting yet another kind of customer: office tenants.

The Los Angeles institution at 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue this month completed an addition called North Market. The new complex includes 60,000 square feet of office space, a new home for Gilmore Bank and 30,000 square feet of retail space. It’s the first time that offices have been available to rent on the site in its 69-year history.

The latest improvements began in 1998 when A.F. Gilmore Co. -- a family-owned real estate enterprise run by descendants of the property’s original owner -- and Caruso Affiliated Holdings announced plans to build the Grove at Farmers Market.


The 640,000-square-foot open-air shopping center, as well as four new Farmers Market buildings and a new plaza housing the restored Farmers Market clock tower, opened last March. The cost of North Market and the other Gilmore additions was $45 million, said A.F. Gilmore Vice President Mark Panatier.

The Gilmore Bank building, constructed in 1955, was razed to make way for the Grove, and the one-branch community bank operated from temporary quarters nearby until North Market was completed.

Retail tenants in the project include Organized Living, a Kansas City-based retailer that sells organizational tools such as shelving, racks and containers, and beauty supply store Beauty Collection Apothecary. An accompanying salon and spa, Elements, is set to open there next year, as is a Fazio Cleaners.

North Market sits on a site rich in Los Angeles history.


Farmers Market dates to 1934, when a contingent of farmers pulled their trucks onto an expanse of empty land at the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. The property has been in the Gilmore family since 1880, when Illinois immigrant and rancher Arthur Fremont Gilmore took control of a 256-acre dairy farm.

Drilling for water at the turn of the last century, Gilmore instead struck oil. By 1905, the dairy farm was gone and Gilmore Oil was on its way to becoming one of the largest petroleum distributors in the West.

Among the other enterprises that have taken root on the property over the years was the Gilmore Drive-In, an outdoor theater that included several rows of benches so neighbors could walk in and see a movie. The Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League played professional baseball at Gilmore Field for decades and engaged in a spirited cross-town rivalry with the Los Angeles Angels, who played at Wrigley Field south of downtown.

Semiprofessional football also was played on the former dairy farm. The site of North Market and what is now CBS Television City once housed Gilmore Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Bulldogs, who were champions of the old American Football League in 1937.


The stadium also hosted circuses, dog shows, boxing matches, political rallies, an Esther Williams aquatic show and midget car racing, which got its start in Los Angeles in the 1930s.

The original Farmers Market still is open seven days a week with 70 shops selling a broad range of goods, including produce and toys. The site remains one of the region’s top attractions, drawing about 3 million visitors a year.